SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The Coast Guard repatriated 12 Dominican migrants to a Dominican Navy patrol vessel June 2 following the at-sea interdiction of an illegal migrant voyage May 30 in the Mona Passage, the Coast Guard 7th District said.
Two other Dominican migrants traveling in the group remain in federal custody facing possible prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico on potential charges of attempted illegal re-entry into a U.S. territory.
The interdictions are the result of ongoing efforts in support of Operation Unified Resolve, Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group.
“Migrants endanger their lives when taking part in an illegal voyage aboard makeshift and grossly overloaded boats with little or no lifesaving equipment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rafael Batlle, commanding officer of the cutter Heriberto Hernandez.
“I’m proud of my crew and thankful that we were able to arrive in time and rescue all these persons from a very dangerous situation. Most of them were dehydrated, disoriented, weakened and even sea sick.”
While on a routine patrol on the night of May 30, the crew of a Coast Guard HC-144 maritime patrol aircraft detected a migrant vessel that was transiting without navigational lights. The migrant boat was about 10 nautical miles north Mona Island, Puerto Rico.
Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan diverted the Heriberto Hernandez to interdict the suspect vessel. Shortly thereafter, the cutter’s crew interdicted the 30-foot makeshift boat and embarked all 14 men from their vessel that was taking on water and in danger of sinking.
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.
The Heriberto Hernandez transferred custody of the two migrants facing federal prosecution to Ramey Sector Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The remaining migrants were transferred to the Coast Guard cutter Winslow Griesser (WPC-1116), which transported the migrants to Dominican waters just off Samaná, Dominican Republic, for their repatriation.